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The Art of Action: Leadership that Closes the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results by Stephen Bungay

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VON MOLTKE WRITES A DIRECTIVE

After war broke out between France and Prussia on 19 July 1870, a series of unplanned engagements, all of which were initiated by Prussian Army, corps, or brigade commanders, resulted on 18 August in the main French Army being defeated in the Battle of Gravelotte–St. Privat, the first action deliberately brought about by von Moltke, and retiring into the city of Metz.

Von Moltke had never envisaged laying siege to Metz. His strategic intent was to seek out and destroy the French Army in order to be able to occupy Paris.1 Now able to render a large part of the French Army harmless without another battle, he seized the opportunity. “Under the circumstances which had arisen,” he wrote, “it was now necessary to formally ...

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